Coronavirus: Parents fear the worst after 2 pupils placed in quarantine after mom tests positive

2020-03-21 09:27

The parents of children at a Bloemfontein school are fearful after hearing two siblings attending the school are in quarantine. 

The siblings, who are in grades 1 and 2 at Brandwag Primary School, were quarantined after their mother, who is a healthcare worker at a private hospital, tested positive for the coronavirus, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced.

He was speaking during a media briefing at the health department's offices on Friday, where he said 202 people have tested positive in South Africa.

Mkhize said the Free State had seven cases, adding among those who tested positive was the siblings' mother.

They have since been placed in quarantine and were awaiting their results which were expected to be back by Saturday, he added.

Mkhize said as soon as it was realised the woman had children at the school, all parents were called in for screening and a briefing from health professionals.

The parents, however, told News24 outside the school on Friday they were not convinced about the screening process because it had left them with more questions than answers. 

One of the parents said they could not sleep on Thursday night after being called in to bring their children for screening.

The parents added they were only told to bring their children because a "community member had tested positive".

"They conducted interviews. We thought they were going to check us thoroughly. So to me, it [the screening] was not convincing because nothing was done.

"It was just an interview. What if I have it, what if my child has it and then we go back home with it? They just wasted my time," parent Elize Mosime said.

Mosime, whose daughter is in Grade 3, said the health professionals questioned them on whether they were showing any flu-like symptoms. 

She added she would have preferred it if the health workers had taken swabs instead of conducting an interview.

Mosime said her daughter was traumatised after hearing she would be screened. 

READ: Coronavirus: Law society sounds alarm over the slow pace of sanatising courts, prisons

Another parent, Morgen Mashinini, said he was shocked when he received the screening notification.

Mashinini, whose children are in grades 1 and 7, said he was glad the swabs was taken and was confident the health professionals knew what they were doing.

"If they ask those questions they would know who has been exposed."

Mashinini said was worried about the cost of testing should he and his family require it.

"Now that [the virus] is closer to home, it is very scary. Fortunately, there are no deaths in our country so far and we appreciate the initiative from the government," he said.  

Healthcare workers also explained the process to parents.

Mkhize said the patients the mother had dealt with at the private healthcare facility where she works would also be subjected to screenings and tests.  

"If the results [of the siblings] come back negative, then we will only watch for symptoms. The children will stay in quarantine for 14 days and the mother will stay with them and be treated until she is also negative.

"If they are found to be positive, it changes the game quite a lot. Then, the children become the first line of contact and must be quarantined at home," Mkhize said. 

For more on the Coronavirus and other stories listen to our podcast here on SoundCloud.

Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  education  |  coronavirus  |  health
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